This week in Concord history

May 19, 1944: Mrs. Charles A. Morin of Monroe Street in Concord hopes a new postal policy aimed at improving communication with prisoners-of-war in Germany will bring word from her son. Lt. Antoine Robert Morin, a pilot, was shot down in February, and his mother received this note, dated Feb. 28: “Dear Folks: Am prisoner of war in Germany. Well and safe. No need for worry. Will write as often as possible. We’ll be together after victory. Will see you all in six months. Bob.” Mrs. Walker has not heard from her son since.


May 19, 1780: A sulfurous smell in the atmosphere has presaged this day of haze known hereafter as The Dark Day. Fires in the unexplored West may be the cause of the darkness.


May 19, 1780: This day becomes known as the “Dark Day” in central New Hampshire. A local history reports: “The shades of night fell at noon and a deep gloom settled on the people, many fearing that the end of the world was coming. This darkness continued for several days and was undoubtedly caused by forest fires in the northern part of the state and in Canada.”


May 19, 1943: Joe Grandmaison is born. He will become a Democratic political consultant and run unsuccessfully for governor in 1990 against Judd Gregg. He will parlay his work for Bill Clinton in 1992 into a trade job in Washington.


May 19, 1989: In a Monitor poll, half the state’s lawmakers say they oppose a broad-based sales or income tax, but 59 percent say one is likely in the next 10 years.


May 19, 1776: Under attack at a fort built by members of his command at the Cedars on the St. Lawrence River in Canada, Maj. Isaac Butterfield of Westmoreland surrenders his 390 New Hampshire and Connecticut soldiers to the British without a fight. Thomas Jefferson will brand Butterfield a scoundrel, and John Adams will say he deserves a harsh death and eternal disgrace. After months in the custody of Gen. Benedict Arnold, Butterfield will be court martialed and cashiered.


May 20, 2004: During a meeting with Monitor editors, Motorcycle Week officials tout the economic benefits of the nine-day rally and downplay law enforcement problems and the potential for gang wars at the upcoming 80th rally week. Officials say $210 million in estimated visitor spending offers an economic boon not only to Laconia, but to the entire state. “There’s a myth that all of the money goes to the Lakes Region,” says Rick Fink, a spokesperson for the Laconia Motorcycle Rally and Race Week Association. “People take day trips.”


May 20, 2001: New England College presents U.S. Sen. Bob Smith with an honorary degree. In silent protest, scores of students and professors hold up signs reading, “I object.”


May 20, 1994: A two-alarm fire in the cellar of The Suitcase shop on North Main Street burns a stockroom with inventory and smokes up neighboring stores, particularly Vanderbilt’s Delicatessen. “The smoke was thick enough inside that building that you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face,” says Battalion Chief Chris Pope.


May 20, 1871: The Portsmouth Journal reports that Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont are now producing nearly all the Shaker socks sold in the country, with New Hampshire accounting for three-fifths of the total. The legging of the socks is machine-made, and within a 20-mile radius of a mill, “nearly the whole female population” is employed in hand-finishing the toes, heels and tops.


May 20, 1775: Meeting in Exeter a month and a day after the battle of Lexington, New Hampshire’s Provincial Congress resolves to raise 2,000 men in three regiments. It also passes a tax of 3,000 pounds to pay the soldiers.


May 20, 1927: Filing his nationally syndicated column from Concord, humorist Will Rogers writes: “No attempts at jokes today. A slim, tall, bashful, smiling American boy is somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, where no lone human being has ever ventured before. He is being prayed for to every kind of Supreme Being that has a following. If he is lost it will be the most universally regretted loss we ever had.” The next day, that American boy, Charles A. Lindbergh, will land the Spirit of St. Louis in Paris.


May 20, 1973: Gov. Mel Thomson declares recognition by the trustees of UNH of the Gay Students Organization “repulsive.” “As fast as I can replace the trustees, I shall,” he says.


May 20, 1983: A crowd of women gather at a public hearing in Concord to describe the sorrows of alimony, child support and high legal fees as the state contemplates reforms to divorce laws. “We have to start with the girls and tell them this business about living happily ever after – that is a fantasy. It’s a fairy tale. They must face the world knowing they’re responsible for their own support,” says Susan Caldwell, head of the state Commission on the Status of Women.


May 20, 1727: A charter is granted to the town of Chichester.


May 20, 1981: In his first speech on the floor, U.S. Sen. Warren Rudman of New Hampshire warns against reckless defense spending. “The public has condemned waste and profligacy in the administration of once-popular social programs,” he says. “This should alert us to what will be an even more vehement outcry against the defense sector if we fail to develop a rational, cost-effective approach to meeting our national security requirements.”


May 21, 1941: Red Rolfe, the Pride of Penacook and the third baseman for the New York Yankees, triples in the 10th inning to drive in the winning run in a 5-4 victory over defending American League champion Detroit. It is Rolfe’s fourth hit of the day. His teammate, Joe DiMaggio, has two hits, running his modest hitting streak to seven games.


May 21, 1777: Workmen at the Portsmouth shipyard chop away the holding blocks, and the newly built Raleigh, a warship authorized five months earlier by the Continental Congress, slides down greased ways into the Piscataqua River. Thousands have gathered to watch the launch.


May 22, 2001: Concord Litho Group, one of the world’s largest printers of greeting cards, has laid off 31 of its 231 employees, the Monitor reports. The elimination of jobs is expected to be permanent.

Author: Insider Staff

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